For the first time this season, McPherson High’s football team won’t be playing a ranked opponent.
After two losses to teams ranked in Class 4A Division I’s Top 5, the Bullpups step down in competition on Friday when they go on the road for the first time by playing at unranked Winfield.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. For those who can’t make it, dial in to 96.7 KBBE-FM and catch all the action with Matt Cole on the play-by-play. Pre-game is set for 6:45.
“We are close (to winning)," MHS coach Jace Pavlovich said. "I told our players we are a good team that has lost to the third- and fourth-ranked teams in the state (by the KFBCA). We could be a great team that is 2-0 right now. We keep making mental mistakes on assignments or technique that costs us.”
Winfield also is 0-2 and lost 28-14 last week to Circle, which had entered the game with 36 straight losses. Circle had lost 66-16 to Maize South in its first game, a team the Bullpups took down to the wire last week before losing 14-6.
Yet, Pavlovich was one of the few not surprised by the score.
“I’m not really surprised, Circle is an improved team,” Pavlovich said. “Winfield is a team that went from the single-wing offense last year to a spread offense this year. It’s going to take them some time to get it together. They are very well-coached and will be ready for us this Friday. Winfield has some very talented skill players, they always have. They struggle upfront in the trenches.”
The Bullpups’ defense certainly has played well beyond its 0-2 record. It held Buhler to less than 300 yards and Maize South managed just 205, quite a bit of that in a late fourth-quarter drive.
“Our defense has been playing very well this year,” Pavlovich said. “Our goal is to be plus-2 in the turnover category every game. Turnovers were the only stat that they beat us on Friday night, subsequently that was the difference on the scoreboard. We need to do a better job of securing the tackle, rallying to the ball and stripping the ball carrier.”
While the defense has been up to snuff, the offense has shown signs of breaking loose, but has been making mistakes when it gets near the end zone.
“We have played two very good defensive teams,” Pavlovich said of his offense, which has just three scores in two games. “We need to keep doing what we are doing and just execute better. We left three touchdowns on the field Friday night. Most of the time it simply came down to execution. Needless to say, we will be focusing on our red zone execution in practice this week.”
An 0-2 record might be a cause for alarm for some teams, but not the Bullpups. They know what’s in the past and what’s ahead. The next four games will be to build momentum heading into district play.
“Our guys are focused in,” Pavlovich said. “They have done a great job getting back after it on the practice field. We have some great senior leadership in the locker room. We are all ready to get back into the win column.”